The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has already changed where leagues play their games, how fans see them and how players conduct themselves. Now, it may the actual rules of a sport in one league.
Players in the Ontario Hockey League, a junior league in Canada, will not allow bodychecking this season, Ontario minister of sports Lisa MacLeod told Sportsnet on Friday. She said removing purposeful physical contact from the game was necessary to prevent the possible spread of the coronavirus.
MacLeod reportedly pointed to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, which had several outbreaks this fall, as a justification for her decision.
OHL commissioner David Branch subsequently said that the league would follow the results of scientific studies, but did not say he’d align with MacLeod’s mandate just yet.
“If there’s studies that really, clearly state that body contact is a contributor to the spread of the virus, then obviously we’ll have to look at it,” Branch said during an appearance on Sportsnet 590 THE FAN’s Writers Bloc. “But we’ve not looked at it yet.”
Ontario is currently experiencing a rolling seven-day average 909 COVID-19 cases per day. The OHL has long been one of the biggest junior leagues in hockey and will now have its talent playing by a new set of rules. We’ll have to wait and see how well they adhere to a lack of contact.
The coronavirus-shortened season is scheduled to start on Feb. 4.
More from Yahoo Sports: